Friday, August 22, 2014

Bucket List Trip Day 2: Concorso Italiano

Italian Concours Maseratis!

Day 2, in which Doris gets her oats.

To truly appreciate the Monterey Automobile Week one needs to spend the entire week there. Looking back I wish I had scheduled another couple of days regardless of cost. There's just plain too much to do and see. So my Saturday got hacked into two pieces: first at the historic races and then the Concorso Italiano. By the time I made it to the concorso I basically ended up paying a dollar a minute!

I also had to sacrifice races I wanted to see. Very painful. But I had come to Monterey as much for the street cars as I had the historic racers and I figured this would be my best chance to do that. Luckily, I was right! I had come to see the car that got me into cars, the one that blew me away as an otherworldly dream as a kid: The Maserati Merak. I didn't know how rare of a care it was. I've never seen one in any car collection. I prayed I wouldn't end up bust here too.

Italian Concours Ferraris Got enough Ferraris there, Butch?

The amount of exotic cars there was unbelievable. It was like seeing a thousand Playmates of the month gathered together. At some point you just stop reacting and your eyes glaze over. Clearly, I was knee deep in serious car porn. My rushed experience left me feeling a little gypped. I never really got to exhale and let myself absorb the event the way I wanted. The Maserati mission came first, deep breathing second.

Italian Concours Panteras (2) Got Panteras?

Italian Concours Ferraris (2) Yes, that's even more Ferraris

I was barely able to glance at cars I'd normally drool over. Some were rare cars, ones I'd only seen in books. Have to come to a very special event like this to see them in person. If I'd just found one of these in real life I'd be ecstatic, like meeting a celebrity. But to find so many grouped together, it's impossible to take it in. What do you do when you meet fifty celebrities? Hard to get an intimate moment.

Italian Concours Maserati Ghibli Spyder

Finally I made my way to the Maserati section. Check out this stunning 1970 Ghibli Spyder above. There's traditionally been a sort of rivalry between the German and Italian supercars. I always sided with the Italians. Their cars are pure passion. Italian exotics are visceral beasts with throaty engines and never a shortage of cylinders. German cars have extreme engineering but with a sterile quality. Much as I appreciate them, won't find me at any Porsche festivals.

Italian Concours Maserati Mistral (2)

A Maserati Mistral, now that's a rare specimen! Most likely I'll never see another in my lifetime. Wonderful lines and this one impeccably restored.

Italian Concours Maserati Khamsin

Italian Concours Maserati Khamsin (4)

Never seen a Maserati Khamsin before, either. Heard the Maserati Club had booked the Laguna Seca track for Sunday. What a thrill to drive these cars the way there were meant to be.

Italian Concours Maserati Boras

Italian Concours Maserati Bora Maroon

A row of Maserati Boras. The Bora is the Merak's big brother. They are very popular and I've seen a few in my time. Supposed to be a blast to drive.

Italian Concours Meraks

At last, Meraks! Four in a row, I was in heaven. The famed "flying buttresses" were everywhere. I didn't know how cool cars could be until I saw one of these in a liquor ad. I cut it out and kept it for years in a notebook cover. I read about the entire history of Maserati, getting into Formula 1 in the process and starting subscriptions to car magazines. I'd entered the worldwide club of car nuts.

Italian Concours Maserati Merak SS Copper Flying Buttress Flying Buttress

Italian Concours Maserati Merak SS Black (3)

Italian Concours Maserati Merak SS Black (6) Mid-engine

"Car owners love to talk about their cars." Renee told me this as I began to feel a bit sheepish about my constant peppering of questions. She and her husband Bruce own the black Merak above. It's a wonderful example, meticulously original. Bruce raved over its handling qualities and how happy he was with the car. I'd read unreliability might be an issue but he said he'd not encountered that problem. It fed a longstanding hunger to finally learn about my dream car firsthand.

Italian Concours Maserati Merak SS Black Bruce Car owner Bruce

Seeing these Meraks and getting the chance to pester an owner for over an hour certainly fulfilled part of the hopes I'd had on making this pilgrimage. I now feel a connection I didn't have before. I may never have the money to buy one but the feeling I have cannot be repo'd. And owning one now would be a much richer experience. So while I didn't get to spend the entire day poring over the exotics as I'd wished, I did accomplish Mission Maserati and I'll carry that for life.

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